Chandler lands ‘best job in town’ as Fairfield Halls director

Neil Chandler, a former operations manager at Fairfield Halls, has been appointed venue director for the borough’s cultural hub, which is due to re-open in 12 months’ time following a council-funded £30million refurbishment.

Neil Chandler: Fairfield Halls’ new venue director

The appointment was announced this week by BH Live, the Bournemouth-based conference organisers who have been appointed to manage the Halls.

Chandler was the head of operations at the Fairfield Halls from 2009 to 2011. He has also worked as general manager at the Bristol Hippodrome and New Wimbledon Theatre, and was nominated for the UK Theatre Manager of the Year award in 2016.

In their announcement, BH Live said, “Neil will be responsible for the strategic direction and financial performance of the venue, delivering a rich, diverse and inclusive programme of entertainment events. He will also manage its day-to-day operation, focusing in particular on event programming, community engagement, partnership working and business events.”

Chandler said, “To join BH Live and lead the iconic Fairfield Halls into a new era is both an honour and privilege.

“BH Live’s track record in managing community assets, event programming and delivering exceptional hospitality gives me immense confidence and the opportunity they have given me to be part of this project, both artistically and operationally, will be very rewarding. I look forward to connecting with the local community and to presenting seasons of entertainment that appeals to a local and wider audience.”

Timothy Godfrey, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for culture, said, “Neil has secured the best job in town.

“It’s great that he is coming back to the Fairfield with BH Live. It’s a combination of experience and knowledge that will get the new Fairfield off to a great start.”

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1 Response to Chandler lands ‘best job in town’ as Fairfield Halls director

  1. Lewis White says:

    I feel relieved and glad that the new manager, Neil Chandler, will have good knowledge of Croydon and the traditional audiences the Fairfield has been catering for for decades (and so is gong to be in touch with past use patterns) — plus clearly is experienced and regarded well in the national arts scene.

    Hopefully, he will have insights into what types of event will pull in audiences, and how to tread the difficult tightrope between popular entertainment and high art, the proven favourites and the new works.

    Way back in 60’s and 70’s the Fairfield staged very popular “higher brow” culture plus popular things like all star wrestling. It seemed to do it all very well. It continued for decades to give a diverse offering, presumably in keeping with demand and its audience’s tastes, if a tad “tribute band” heavy, and my only quibble was the gradual decline in the decor, which was very tired, and the worn-out exterior environment, a no man’s land bleak expanse of cracked paving slabs.

    With Croydon located so close to central London, it was and is never going to be easy to compete for audiences with the major central London concerthalls, and West End theatre, nor attract major stars whose habitat is the o2. But maybe the refurb will renew the national spotlight on the Fairfield for orchestral concerts, and –if Croydon could grow its own original young musical talent, could up- coming bands play here? And will the London Mozart players come back? Could the Beeb come down and do live broadcasts, Radio 2 and all that?

    Particularly, could Fairfield try to grow a classics audience among the teens and their parents , 20’s and 30’s ages?. At 63, I find myself one of the younger ones at classical concerts!.

    I emailed Croydon Council several times over recent months asking for the Fairfield website to be updated with drawings of the renewed facilities. For example, will there be some intermediate sized spaces for smaller events and smaller concerts, which would be lost in the huge Concert Hall?

    Sadly–no–Deplorably, no response has been forthcoming, and I am wondering if Croydon’s Comms team are really interested in an enquiry from a resident like me, or only in Press and film crews and similar high-profile stuff.

    I am sure that Inside Croydon readers will all have their own hopes for the renewed Fairfield, and I am sure we all wish the new manager and his team the very best of success. At the end of the day, we all need to buy tickets to events, and go there !

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